|September 3, 2013 · Volume 12, Issue 17|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
OSHA has announced a proposed rule aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers. The agency currently enforces 40-year-old permissible exposure limits (PELs) for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards that are outdated, inconsistent between industries and do not adequately protect worker health. The proposed rule brings protections into the 21st century.
"This is a proposed rule and not a final rule," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "We are inviting and strongly encouraging the public to participate in the process of developing a final rule through submitting written comments and participating in public hearings. Our process of obtaining public input will take many months, and we encourage and welcome the public to participate."
Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually. For more information on the proposed rule and how to participate in the rulemaking process, visit OSHA's silica rulemaking page at www.osha.gov/silica and read Dr. Michaels' new post on the DOL blog.
The Federal Aviation Administration in coordination with OSHA has issued a final policy for improving workplace safety for aircraft cabin crewmembers (flight attendants). Under the new policy, OSHA will be able to enforce certain occupational safety and health standards currently not covered by FAA oversight, which are hazard communication, bloodborne pathogens and hearing conservation.
"This policy shows the strength of agencies working together and will enhance the safety of cabin crewmembers and passengers alike," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "It is imperative that cabin crewmembers have the same level of safety assurances they provide the public." For more information, read the FAA news release and the FAA policy notice.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and OSHA have issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate storage, handling and management. This action supports the goals of President Obama's August 2013 executive order on "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security." The advisory provides lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners and first responders from recent incidents, including the ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas, in order to prevent similar incidents.
"Ammonium nitrate can be very dangerous, and it's imperative that employers, workers and first responders all understand the hazards," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "With this understanding, together they can control these hazards and save lives and limbs." Read the EPA press release for more details.
Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released Aug. 22 show a reduction in the number of fatal work injuries in 2012 compared with 2011. Last year, 4,383 workers died from work-related injuries, down from a final count of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011.
"I am greatly encouraged by the reduction in workplace fatalities, even in a growing economy," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "It is a testament to the hard work of employers, unions, health and safety professionals and the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration. Through collaborative education and outreach efforts, and effective law enforcement, these numbers indicate that we are absolutely moving in the right direction."
Nevertheless, Secretary Perez noted that there is still much work left to be done. "These aren't just numbers and data - they are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who will never come home again. We can and must do better," he said. Read the Secretary's statement for more information.
OSHA marked Labor Rights Week (Aug. 26-30) by forging more than a dozen new agreements with consulates across the country to protect vulnerable workers from Mexico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Columbia, Chile and the Philippines. In an online video message, Secretary Perez explained that the Department of Labor took actions such as the Alliance signings during Labor Rights Week "…to honor the commitment of all workers and to reaffirm our commitment to making their workplaces fair and safe." Learn more in a post on the DOL blog.
OSHA has ordered Illinois Central Railroad Co. and Wisconsin Central Ltd., two subsidiaries of Canadian National Railway, to pay more than $263,000 in back wages, fees and damages to two employees who were disciplined for reporting work-related injuries. An OSHA investigation upheld allegations from one employee who was fired for reporting an injury at the end of his shift. The railroad was also ordered to reinstate this employee to his position. The other employee was disciplined with a 20-day deferred suspension after reporting an injury three hours after it occurred. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and 21 other statutes prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who report violations of various laws. Read the news release for more information.
Hagel Metal Fabrication Inc. has been cited by OSHA for safety and health violations after a 23-year-old worker and Iraq war veteran was fatally crushed Feb. 22 by an automated laser-cutting machine. During this investigation, workers made formal complaints, prompting two additional OSHA inspections at the East Peoria, Ill., metal manufacturing plant. Violations include failing to provide protective machine guarding, failing to lock out sources of hazardous machine energy, and failing to protect workers from fall hazards. Proposed penalties totaled $317,000.
"The company failed to implement the most basic of safety precautions - and the result was a terrible tragedy. This case demonstrates an egregious disregard of worker safety and health," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace."
Read the news release for a complete list of citations.
OSHA has reached a settlement agreement with Waste Management of New Jersey Inc. to abate violations involving excessive heat hazards that resulted in the death of a temporary worker in June 2012. The settlement resolves litigation that began after OSHA's June investigation led to a citation for one serious violation of the agency's general duty clause. A temporary worker of Waste Management, employed as a garbage collector, died while picking up trash on a collection route in Hopewell Borough. The agreement calls for the company to implement safety procedures to prevent heat-related illness and death, including using a work/rest regimen that allows new or returning workers to acclimate to working in the heat; training all workers, including temporary employees, contractors, and part time employees, on the symptoms of heat induced illness and methods of preventing such illnesses; and providing cool water and encouraging employees to drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes instead of relying on thirst. Learn more about the settlement in the news release.
Cardell Cabinetry LLC in San Antonio has been cited by OSHA for failing to remove hazardous levels of combustible dust. OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated the February inspection as both a follow-up and complaint inspection. Penalties totaling $267,434 were proposed for violations including failing to remove combustible wood dust from the parts mill area, provide adequate guarding on machinery, ensure electrical knockouts were covered and provide required personal protective equipment. See the news release for a complete list of citations and information for preventing and minimizing the effects of combustible dust fires and explosions.
From Aug. 26-Sept. 24, bilingual posters promoting OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Fatal Falls in Construction will appear on public buses in south Dallas. The posters are designed to make OSHA safety information, training and resources more accessible to hard-to-reach workers and employers in Spanish as well as English. For more information, read the regional release.
On Oct. 1, along with employers and workers across Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah, OSHA will sponsor a voluntary safety stand-down on how to prevent falls, the leading cause of death in the construction industry. A kick-off meeting will be webcast from 8-10 a.m. MDT to meeting locations. Visit the Rocky Mountain States Stand-Down Web page and register online to join the stand-down and receive free OSHA training resources.
As hot days stretch on, OSHA is continuing to reach out to employers and workers about the hazard of working outdoors on hot days. In a phone bank at Univision's Houston studios last week, OSHA fielded calls in Spanish about how to stay safe and healthy on the job. Follow OSHA heat campaign events and updates with the new heat e-newsletter. For additional information and resources, visit OSHA's Heat Campaign page (en español).
OSHA's updated Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The first deadline in the implementation phase is Dec. 1, 2013, the date by which employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet. Find information and resources, including QuickCards, a training fact sheet, a list of frequently asked questions and a brief on labels and pictograms on OSHA's Hazard Communications page.
OSHA has formed an alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction to develop training resources to protect women in the construction industry. The agency also unveiled its new Women in Construction Web page, which addresses safety and health issues specific to female construction workers. For more information on the alliance, visit the OSHA-NAWIC Web page.
OSHA has also renewed its alliance with The Joint Commission to provide information and training resources that will help protect the safety and health of health care workers. Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Learn more at www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html.
OSHA has recognized family-owned tea manufacturer R.C. Bigelow's Boise, Idaho facility for its commitment to worker safety by recertifying it in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program. The company first achieved SHARP status in 2005 after contacting OSHA's On-site Consultation Program for help reducing workplace injuries. With OSHA's help, Bigelow has not only corrected hazards related to respirators, electrical cords and flammable materials, but has also used a team approach to instill ownership of safety practices and principles at all levels of the organization. SHARP recognizes small business employers who operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. To request a free consultation, visit OSHA's On-Site Consultation page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) to find an office in your area.
On Thursday, Aug. 15, OSHA's Region II Administrator Bob Kulick joined a forum of the Regional Interagency Workgroup (RIWG) of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The event drew over 150 participants from New York and New Jersey representing AAPI advocacy groups, community based organizations, employers, elected officials, and local state agencies. Participants joined workshops to discuss issues of importance in their communities, including workers' rights, small businesses, health and social services and housing. Sign up to receive the Initiative's weekly highlights for more information on upcoming events in your area.
Learn more about health insurance choices that will become available when key parts of the health care law take effect. Visit Healthcare.gov for information on a new way to buy health insurance for yourself, your family or your small business that offers more choice, more transparency, and more control over your health insurance options.
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